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Target commitment

British food firms pledge major cuts in waste

Supermarkets have signed to cut food waste (pic: Friends of the Earth)

Britain’s biggest grocers, restaurants and food manufacturers say they will cut food waste by 30% to meet a target set by the United Nations.

Food waste currently accounts for around a fifth of Britain’s carbon footprint and 47 British companies have now pledged to make big cuts in the amount being sent to landfill.

An announcement is due in the coming weeks that they will remove 580,000 tones of food waste from the retail, manufacturing and hospitality industries by the target date, according to a report this weekend.

The move comes six years after a special report by Daily Business highlighting the extent of food waste and calling for action across the industry.

In the same year the Courtauld Commitment was established by the food charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) as a voluntary agreement. It aimed to reduce per capita waste by 20% across the entire food system by 2025.



Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco, admitted in 2013 that of all the bagged salads produced in this country, 68% were never consumed. About 40% of apples were thrown away, together with half of all bakery products.

According to a Wrap progress report, UK food waste fell 7% between 2015 and 2018.

The 2030 commitment asks firms to cut another 31% off the total edible food they waste.

Under a new Courtauld pledge, every major British supermarket has agreed to help slash food waste in the retail sector, excluding inedible parts, by 29% – equal to 80,000 tons.

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Food suppliers such as Associated British Foods, and Nestle have agreed to help cut their sector’s food waste by 26%, saving 200,000 tons. 

Fast food chains including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC say they will waste by 37%, or a total of 300,000 tons.

However, the British food industry wastes nearly three million tons of food every year, with claims by some campaigners that “use by” and “best before” labels encourage consumers to throw away edible food and that supermarkets are too hasty in removing it from shelves.

There is also criticism of bulk buy offers that means shoppers buy more than they need.

Businesses are now pledging to boost the amount of surplus food redistributed to charities and for animal feed.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s has told the Mail on Sunday: “We see this as an important opportunity to collaborate with the industry, making the food and drink system more sustainable.”

Andrew Griffiths, of Nestlé, told the paper: “Food waste is a critical issue, both in terms of its environmental and social impact. The new ambition in Courtauld 2030 provides clarity on the scale of action required.”



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